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Now you may be wondering, who was wearing the bolo tie? Me or the shark? Answer: YES!
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Here it comes...

It was going to happen, it was really going to happen, he was about to to really truly get into a fight with someone that he realized was quite large and not unskilled in beating the snot out of people. Nick took a step backwards, grabbing the topmost molotov with a sweaty palm and discarding his bag roughly onto the ground. Then, with more bravery than he thought possible, he took a step forwards. He'd fought larger opponents and come out on top, this was nothing compared to the Cu Sith, Alex was -
- a heck of a guy to be fighting.

Oh, bugger.

The branch swooshed by, carving itself a tunnel of rushing air that closed loudly behind it. Alex meant business. Nick nearly stumbled, stepping quickly backwards onto questionable footing. He went to seize the opening, but it was too late - hesitating out of surprise, he rushed forward only to be swept aside by Alex's backswing. There wasn't much momentum to it, but Nick found himself gritting his teeth from the pain. Sweeping aside the branch with one molotov, he dashed forward again, swinging heavily but not quite fast enough at Alex's head.

Nick stood a second, thinking - had he really just made an earnest attempt to smash Alex's skull? - but darted in again. Hard as steel yet brittle as, well, glass, his makeshift maces were no good for blocking heavy swings. Or for blocking light swings, or taking swings, really, he thought, as they were really not much better than just holding a rock in each hand.

Now fighting in earnest he thought he felt the same kind of nervousness as a test pilot or acrobat - he knew what he was doing, he was in his element, but to let his concentration slip for just an instant off the knife-edge between success and failure would have dire consequences. Really, the best thing to do would be to do what he did best and run. Run far away from his problems, mental and physical, outstrip them and keep running and then, as he had half-jokingly written in his senior goodbye in the yearbook, run long enough and far enough and someone will just take care of them for you. But here, there was everything to run from and nowhere to run to, because the collars wouldn't come off, and home was a thousand miles away or more.

None of that really registered with his conscious mind. He was too occupied with parrying and footwork and feints and crosses and jabs. A little tendril of thought snaked across his mind, telling him that he was dead anyways, that he might as well put on a show. Consciously, however, he knew that caution was key. It was no use getting injured on day one of what, a week? Two weeks? And if he got really badly hurt, he wouldn't make it that far. He just had to stay close, block the branch before it could get going, but close to Alex was exactly where he didn't want to be...

He darted in, stabbing forward, and was rewarded with a heavy exhalation. A good solid strike at last. But before he could do more than mentally congratulate himself, Alex acted with alarming speed, bringing the pine branch crashing down. Nick put up the old standby, the double dagger defense - dominant hand behind the weaker one, catch the blade in an x and then stab with the dominant. Or at least that was the plan. What was not part of the plan was the fact that the branch did not stop but rather crashed downwards, shattering the bottle in Nick's left hand and gouging his right with glistening, stinging shrapnel.

He fell back, panting, looking down at what most closely resembled a curious sort of glass shiv. It was a lucky thing that the bottleneck hadn't shattered completely, leaving his hand bloody and useless, but it was much less lucky that the lacerations on his right arm were smarting and stinging from the contents of the molotov. He clutched his shiv, less dangerous yet more deadly than the unbroken bottle, and waited for the next move.



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Waking Up is Hard to do · The Woods: Inland